Thousands of San Diegans who use public transit will need to adjust their schedules because the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System has a bus driver shortage.
The staff shortage is forcing the MTS to reduce the number of buses on some routes that take people to work or school.
“It’s been rough,” MTS bus driver Brent DeMoss said. “We worked different hours. We could work long-hour days. It’s just a battle right now. We’re trying to get the public moving and that’s our job.”
DeMoss said many of the MTS bus drivers need to work six-day weeks to cover all the routes in San Diego County.
Signs inside MTS buses alert passengers: “Due to driver shortage, bus riders may experience service delays.”
“All across every industry, they’re having a hard time getting people to come to work,” MTS CEO Sharon Cooney told NBC 7.
Many bus drivers have quit or retired during the pandemic. DeMoss said a lot of his fellow drivers also called in sick this week after positive COVID-19 tests.
Cooney celebrated the drivers who still showed up to work this week and the past two years.
“They’ve been rolling with it," Cooney said. "They’ve been really showing themselves to be real strong civil servants.”
Unfortunately, Cooney said, the driver shortage means the MTS will reduce the number of buses on some routes later this month, which means the time between some pickups will go from 12 minutes to 20 minutes or more, meaning passengers will need to plan ahead to avoid being late for work or school.
“Please be patient with our drivers, because the one that’s in the seat that shows up to pick you up — they came to work that day,” Cooney added.
“We’re just a big family,” chimed in DeMoss. “We’re helping each other out. We’ve got management that’s helping each other out, too. We’re scrambling for drivers.”
In the meantime, Cooney said, the MTS is working on new ways to recruit more drivers for San Diego County.